Cracks in the support system
Family, friends, relationships, these are just a few things that provide people with a safety net. How many people, if they lost their job, would be able to rely on family for support? Surely not everyone, but a good portion of people have others to help them if they were in need. Hell, here in the US we’ve made it almost necessary to rely on the kindness of others to crowd fund for healthcare needs. Like it or not, people need people, well most do anyway…
I don’t think it gets easier. It’s been nearly two decades… wow I’ve gotten old… since I left the military and was forced back into civilian life due to my injuries. Since that time, I’ve tried to assimilate as best as I could and it never really caught on. The problem is experience. When I got out I was a young 20 something who had seen and done things most people can’t even do in a videogame. I had traveled, fought in wars, buried friends, and spent more time in the hospital than I ever thought I would over the course of my life. When I finally decided I could be around people, my peers were fresh out of high school or at best had taken time between school and college. How was I going to find shared experiences in a group that consisted of people who hadn’t even moved out of their parents homes yet?
Thanks to the circumstances of my birth, I don’t have a family. It’s not that I don’t know where they are, I know where most of them are. My mother however, is gone and despite my best efforts to locate her, I have had no luck there. The rest of my family were abusive and shitty people. People I was all too happy to get away from the first chance I got, so I did. Which meant that if I fell, if I couldn’t afford a place to live, then I would be homeless. For (now what seems like) a brief time, I actually was.
I haven’t made it this far in life by relying on others, since I’ve never been able to find someone reliable to begin with. I mean I’m tough to be around, I can acknowledge that. Here insulated on the internet it’s easy to see a one dimensional version of who I am. I’m stubborn, which is probably how I’ve managed to make it to my PhD. I’m opinionated to a fault, but I never had the option to have an opinion growing up, so I’m okay with that now. I have a lot of triggers, you don’t live the life I had without having more than just a few and trust me I couldn’t list them all even if I wanted to. Most of all I tend to pull away from people in general. I’m not one to check in on people because I don’t like bothering others and it feels frivolous to send a text if there isn’t an actual reason for needing to talk to a person behind it. Which is probably also in part due to how I grew up.
Basically since I’ve left the service my support system has been me. If I fail there’s no one to blame, but me. If I succeed same thing, but no one is around to celebrate with me. That was part of the reason for my daily blogging through my PhD I think. Just to put down on virtual paper that I existed because if I died tomorrow the only reason anyone would know is because the updates stopped. Not a lot of people would check up on me and the ones that would are people who rely on me to do a job. I’m not upset by this arrangement, I mean this was my choice. A lot of veterans feel isolated and it’s not something easily overcome because there isn’t a lot of shared experience out there with your fully civilian counterparts. I’ve come to accept this and more often than not I feel too tired just existing to make extra efforts to try to make friends, especially when there’s a pandemic going on.
It’s not all bad, for the past eight years I’ve been a “parent” to two cats. I even had a dedication my my masters thesis to the two of them. Seriously, it was mostly as a joke, but having a mostly low maintenance animal in the house has been nice. You don’t feel so alone I guess. Dogs are great, but you need to take them outside. I don’t have a backyard large enough for a dog to enjoy and with my health, getting out of the house with a dog on a regular basis would be hard. I think it’s a little less cruel to have a set of cats so they can keep each other company when I’m working or away from the house during the day. It’s been a (mostly) good arrangement and even though I wouldn’t say I’m a “cat person” I still love them and take care of them as best as I can.
About a week ago it was time for the oldest to have her annual teeth cleaning and they found a lesion on her gum that needed to be corrected. She would have to undergo anesthesia for the procedure, but they had heard a heart murmur pretty clearly so she needed to be looked at before her teeth could be worked on. She’s high strung and super anxious around people so I just hoped that the problem was due to the stress of being at the vet. Yesterday I got confirmation from another vet that she has some heart issues and while she can be put under, she’s at a higher risk for death from it.
She’s an old bitchy cat. One who I regularly joke will live forever out of spite and hatred for everyone and everything. She’s over ten now, so yeah an old lady in cat years. She hadn’t had an easy life either when we found each other and I like to think she’s had far more good years than bad. If she had to go, I’m glad it’s in my current home, where she has somewhat more room than our last one to run around, play, and mostly sleep. It’s really their home and I just live here with them.
I’ve already lost one cat several years back and I stopped blogging way back then because of it. That one died suddenly and sadly she was in my arms when she went. My oldest (the one I’m talking about now with the heart issue) seemed sad when it happened or at least a lot less active, so we adopted another cat and our little family has been the same for the past four years. I thought for sure I would get another five good years with her before I had to start worrying. She’s always been in great health and basically she’s built like a tank. Still, I guess even tanks break down eventually. I’ve been trying to get more photos with her in case the worst happens.
They don’t know how long she will live, heart disease in cats can stabilize, get worse slowly, or get bad very quickly. I have another follow-up in six months to see how her heart is doing and she will probably need regular follow-ups for the rest of her life now. I’m not a wealthy person, as a college student (even at a PhD level) I make poverty wages and already my credit card isn’t looking so good with this bill. It was almost a thousand dollars to get her heart checked out and that does not include the dental cleaning she still needs. But she needs care and I would gladly go into even further debt (and I’m certainly going to have to) making sure he had a long and comfortable life.
It’s a sad and stressful time, but I’m trying to make the most of it. It’s the least I can do for my little family. I think that’s basically the post, but instead of just ending it here, I guess we can look at some of the photos of her over the years. We have an interesting relationship, she always wants my attention when I’m working so I stack things on top of her, it’s sort of our thing. Yes, my love language to my cat is stacking things on her and she lets me do it.